It is said our thoughts don’t define us as a person, but our behavior does. But our behavior is a reflection of our mind. Just like how our feelings affect our response to different situations, similarly our actions and behaviors can improve or worsen our mental health. While the terms behavioral health and mental health are used interchangeably, they are two different branches of the same tree. It is thus essential to understand the relationship between the two to become more aware of the issues, ensure correct diagnosis, and function better.

Behavioral health

Behavioral health is the response/reaction to a situation or internal thoughts. It is a byproduct of mental and physical health. Persistent and repetitive actions and behaviors that impact the well-being of an individual and cause distress are called behavioral health issues. 

Mental Health

Mental health refers to an individual’s ability to cope with stress. It is how one thinks and feels on the inside. It is a state of being rather than a state of doing. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects the way we think, feel, and behave. It also helps determine how we deal with stress, get along with others, and make decisions. 

Are behavioral health and mental health the same thing?

Mental health is how one thinks and feels, while behavioral health is how these thoughts and feelings play out in real life. 

Although behaviors and actions characterize behavioral health disorders, they are usually not the root cause. Behavioral health disorders often coexist with mental illness. They are often developed as the coping mechanisms for a specific mental illness; for example, one might start substance use due to overwhelming stress and inability to deal with it or isolate self and show aggression as maladaptive coping to depression.

Similarly, certain behaviors might increase or decrease the symptoms of a mental illness. For example, eating healthy, drinking water, exercising, meditation, etc., might reduce the symptoms of mental illnesses. At the same time, certain other behaviors like drug addiction, social isolation, sleep loss might worsen the symptoms. 

Causes of behavioral or mental health issues

The causes of behavioral or mental health disorders can be physical or mental illnesses, environmental factors, prior trauma, genetic factors. In addition causes in children could be abuse, lack of supervision, inconsistent discipline, peer pressure etc. 

It is important to define the illness and characterize the causation of the disease for effective diagnosis and treatment

Symptoms of behavioral or mental health issues;

The symptoms of behavioral and mental health issues vary from person to person, depending upon the severity, coping mechanism, and lifestyle. It is essential to seek a professional diagnosis to be aware of the issue and start the process of healing. The most common symptoms of mental and behavioral health issues include: 

  • Feeling overwhelmingly sad and abject feelings of hopelessness 
  • Significant changes in eating and sleeping habits 
  • Excessive worries and fear 
  • Extreme mood swings 
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Anxiety or panic attacks 
  • Substance or drug use
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harming behavior

Treatment for mental and behavioral health problems; 

Luckily, almost all mental illnesses are treatable and preventable, provided the right approach. Just like the symptoms, the treatment of behavioral and mental health issues varies from person to person, depending upon the severity and underlying conditions. The first step towards treating a mental illness is awareness and acceptance of the problem, accurate diagnosis by a mental health professional, and collaborative approach in choosing a proper treatment. Three common and effective treatments include:

  1. Psychotherapy: Therapy is the easiest and most common way to deal with mental and behavioral challenges. In psychotherapy, the psychologist uses various techniques to help individuals cope with their issues and modify unhealthy behaviors and maladaptive thinking pattern. 
  2. Medication: Cutting edge science has helped develop a number of highly effective medications that are being used to treat mental health conditions and have led to remission of symptoms.
  3. TMS: Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a very effective noninvasive form of brain stimulation. A changing magnetic field is used to cause electric current targeted at a specific brain area through electromagnetic induction thereby leading to enduring remission of symptoms especially in debilitating conditions such as Depression. The treatment is free of serious adverse impact and FDA approved treatment for Depression. The treatment is completely covered by most health insurances.

Remember that it is okay not to be okay. We all need some extra support on some days. Talk to a trusted friend or a family member or schedule an appointment with us, and let us help you.

September 30th, 2021